“Last year, I had the opportunity to inaugurate the Defence Office Complex. Hamare desh ka durbhagya hai ki bahut si achchhi cheezen, achchhe uddeshya se ki gayi cheezen, rajneeti ke rang mein phans jati hai (It is our country’s misfortune that a lot of good things, well-meaning things, get mired in politics),” he said, talking about the two complexes inaugurated last year.
The Pragati Maidan corridor has been built at a cost of more than Rs 920 crore, funded entirely by the central government. It is aimed at providing smooth access to the new exhibition and convention centre being developed at Pragati Maidan.
The redeveloped stretch is on one of the busiest traffic arteries of the capital.
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“Developing a integrated transit corridor in such a short time was not easy. This stretch, where the tunnels and underpasses have been constructed, is one of the busiest and most heavily congested routes of Delhi. It sees lakhs of vehicles daily, and the tunnel has been constructed under seven active railway tracks. This project faced many difficulties, but was completed,” Modi said.
New projects frequently face criticism, he said. “Hamare desh mein kuchh bhi kaam karo toh judiciary ke darwaze khatkhatane waalon ki bhi kami nahin hai, har cheez mein adangaa daalne wale log to hote hi hain. Anek mushkilen paida hoti hain desh ko aage le jane mein. Is project ko bhi waisi hi kathinayion se guzarna pada. (Whenever you try to do something in our country, there is no dearth of people who will move courts, erect hurdles in the way. Many problems arise in the way of taking the country forward. This project too faced difficulties.)” Modi said.
“But this is new India, it resolves issues, takes pledges, and it makes all efforts to fulfill those pledges.”
The re-development of Pragati Maidan was proposed when the Congress was in power, but but it remained on paper, Modi said. “The central government is relentlessly working on state-of-the-art facilities and exhibition halls to organise world-class events. An international convention and expo centre is being constructed in Dwarka. These projects are an example in themselves,” he said.
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“Last year I had the opportunity to inaugurate four exhibition halls, and today this connectivity… Kendra sarkar dwara karaaye jaane waale aadhunik nirman desh ki rajdhani ki tasveer hi nahin, taqdeer bhi badal rahe hain… (The development of Delhi that has been undertaken by the central government will change not only the face of the capital, but also its destiny),” Modi said.
The central government’s push to develop and modernise is aimed at providing ease of living to the residents of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), the PM said. All the development work that is being done or would be done in the future should be environment-friendly,” he said.
On the traffic congestion around ITO and Prgati Maidan, Modi said, “Whenever there is an event in central and New Delhi around ITO, I tell the SPG and security personnel to escort me before peak hour traffic so that commuters don’t face problems amid heavy traffic jams. But now the tunnel will provide smooth and seamless connectivity to people. It will save 55 lakh litres of petrol per day and curb pollution… Making India green, clean and sustainable is our goal,” he said.
Modi complained that schemes that save money do not get as much publicity as the schemes that spend money. “If I announce a scheme of giving Rs 100 to people, it becomes a headline but when I am doing work which will help people save Rs 200, it does not fine place in newspapers or media. The reason is it doesn’t have any political mileage. But, we have to work for the welfare of people and development of the city…”
During his visit to the tunnel, the PM took a walk to look at the artwork and paintings on the walls, and was seen picking up litter from the road.
“I first took a ride in a jeep but after travelling for about 5-10 minutes, I stepped out of the vehicle as I could not stop myself from admiring the mesmerising beauty of the art. I walked for 10-15 minutes and enjoyed the artwork which depicts the culture, festivals, and six seasons of India,” he said.
Modi said he had suggested to officials to close the tunnel to vehicles for four-six hours every Sunday when traffic is thinner, and organise tours for schoolchildren. “It can be a wonderful opportunity for children and the public to explore art and learn about our culture. The tunnel should be treated as an art gallery,” he said.
Modi has also asked the Ministry of External Affairs to arrange a visit to the tunnel for all foreign ambassadors and diplomats. The artwork in the six-lane tunnel is reportedly the longest mural in the world.
The tunnel starts from NSIC Purana Quila Road and ends at Pragati power station. There are six underpasses — four on Mathura Road, and one each on Ring Road and Bhairon Marg.
The inauguration was also attended by Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. Several recently appointed and trainee personnel of Delhi Police were also present.
On the Centre Vista project, the PM said, “The construction work of Central Vista and new Parliament work is also going on in full swing. In the coming days, India’s capital will be discussed all over the world, and every Indian will proudly say, ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’.”